Though I live in Louisville, I have deep connections to other nearby cities. Lexington is where my husband is from, and we met while attending the University of Kentucky there. Cincinnati is where our best friends live and is the site of many a concert when artists decide the Midwest is worth one stop on their tours. Since the three cities are within an hour of each other, I have grown to see them as a cultural unit in their own right. I affectionately call this space the LLC Triangle. Celebrating local food doesn’t mean I can only focus on Louisville. I’ve written about The Futile Bakery in Lexington, and now I’m here to tell you why you need to stop at Drip Coffee Lounge in Cincinnati on your next visit.
Drip Coffee Lounge is located in the artistic and bohemian Camp Washington neighborhood of Cincinnati. Located in the northwest area of the city along the I-75 corridor, this historic neighborhood dates back to the 1800’s. The first Ohio State Fair was hosted here in 1850, and the area was a military training ground during the U.S.-Mexican War in the 1860’s. Nowadays the fatigues are traded in for paintbrushes, and the neighborhood is a hub of the Cincinnati art scene.
We visited the area for the Cincinnati Art Book Fair which was hosted at the Campsite Sculpture Park. Looking for a place to eat nearby, we found Drip Coffee Lounge. More than a coffee house, Drip is a community hub where people come to drink, eat, talk, play chess, enjoy live music, and even get a hair cut. Focusing on African and Black American makers and innovators, Drip provides a space for many different community members to display their talents.
Check out the community tab on their website, and you will find a list of organizations and community members that work with Drip. From local breweries to small coffee roasters, and from neighborhood bands to a man that gives free haircuts to children, you get the sense that this is a place for the community to gather and support one another. We experienced it just in our short visit, when someone dropped by our impromptu chess game (boards and pieces are often sitting at tables, waiting for you to pick them up and pass the time). The stranger was waiting for someone to meet him to play a game at a prearranged time, but he chatted with us while he waited. It was the kind of casual, random encounter that the pandemic has almost erased from our lives. A beautiful little display of community.
Often when so many things are right, you just know that something has to be wrong. Perfection is, after all, quite impossible to achieve. However Drip shows the same care to their menu that they do to their community. Western and Northern African shareable plates are the feed here, and they offer a wide variety of coffees, teas, cocktails, wines, and beers to drink. We ordered beet hummus, plantain fritters, sambusas, and beignets to share among the four of us, and everything was absolutely delicious. Make sure this isn’t your only meal, as portions are enough to share but not enough to sustain you. Also offered are some meat dishes that may fill you up a little bit more, such as wraps and skewers.
I heartily recommend that you stop by Drip Coffee Lounge next time you’re in Cincinnati, and see if there’s a gallery going on at Wave Pool across the street. We were lucky enough to catch an annual block party that this artist collective throws, and learn about community services offered (such as free meals, free clothing, and a community food pantry for neighbors in need). They have their feet planted firmly in the community, fed by roots that stretch all the way to Africa. Honoring where you come from and where you are at the same time is a tall order but Drip does it flawlessly. Drop by to play some chess or discover your new favorite coffee blend. Just know – it’ll be unique, just like Drip.
Until next time, here’s to good drinking, great eating, and even better living!
Drip Coffee Lounge is located at 2927 Colerain Ave. Their hours are Sun. – Wed. 7AM – 8PM; Thurs. – Sat. 7AM – 10PM.